9 Types of Management Styles for Effective Leadership

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 10, 2022 | Published May 17, 2021

Updated July 10, 2022

Published May 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Having strong leadership skills, even if you're not in a managerial position, is beneficial. It makes you a better worker and team member, and applies to your personal life, too. There are many ways to be an excellent leader by using different management styles at different times. In this article, we explore what a management style is and nine common types you can incorporate in different situations.

Related:

  • 10 Common Leadership Styles

  • Guidelines on Effective Leadership in the Workplace

What is a management style?

A management style is how a person leads an individual, team, meeting, project or organization. Different management styles also dictate the way a person organizes, plans, decides, delegates and manages their team. There are a variety of management styles that suit different situations. Someone may even incorporate multiple types in their work or personal lives.

Read more: How To Answer "What's Your Management Style?" in an Interview

Why people use different management styles

Different internal and external factors affect the management style a person might choose. Internal factors include the company's culture, policies, priorities, skill levels, employee engagement and more. External factors include employment laws, competitors, supplies, consumers and even the economy. Effective managers must know which management style best suits their environment to implement it.

Related: Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

Nine types of management styles

Leaders use one management style or a blend of them to get the job done. Here are nine common management styles along with their advantages, disadvantages and an example of an appropriate situation to use each one.

1. Authoritative

In this style, managers follow a top-down approach and make decisions on their own. They create rules, delegate tasks and set clear expectations everyone must follow. They rarely request feedback and monitor employees to ensure they are working efficiently.

  • Advantages: This style works for teams that need to make quick decisions, as the manager won't need to consult anyone else. An authoritative manager works best with new employees or large teams as they set clear, easy-to-follow expectations.

  • Disadvantages: Employees with ideas of their own may feel dissatisfied under an authoritative leader. This can learn to higher turnover, a lack of professional development or engagement, and weak interpersonal relationships. It can also be hard for new and innovative ideas to emerge under this management style.

  • Example: Many restaurant managers use an authoritative management style. It helps them ensure quality food is coming out quickly and correctly. As many restaurant positions are entry-level, an authoritative leader can guide new employees on the team.

2. Persuasive

Persuasive leaders are similar to authoritative as they handle the decision-making in their team. But persuasive managers explain the rationale behind each decision to help employees understand why it's best for the company. This creates a more inclusive and trusting environment, thus motivating employees to work harder to implement decisions they understand.

  • Advantages: This management style makes employees trust their leaders and feel as though they are receiving the same trust. Employees are more willing to accept and implement decisions if they understand the reasoning behind them.

  • Disadvantages: Although persuasive managers keep employees in the loop with this management style, they still don't have control over any decision-making. This can lead them to feel restricted.

  • Example: Experts in their field, like a heart surgeon, may use a persuasive management style. This is because they can explain their thought process and show their team why the decision they made is the best option.

3. Paternalistic

In this management style, the manager still makes decisions, but they do so with their team's best interests in mind. It's aptly named because paternalistic managers may refer to their staff as family and try to treat them as such. They ask for loyalty and trust in return.

  • Advantages: Paternalistic managers focus on the welfare of their employees when making decisions. This leads to happier, more productive employees.

  • Disadvantages: Employees may become too dependent on management using this style or find it condescending and infantilizing.

  • Example: This management style works best with small teams and companies. A startup may operate with this management style at first and change it as their team grows and excels on their own.

4. Consultative

A consultative management style is different from the previous three as it is a democratic style. Managers ask for their team's thoughts and opinions before making decisions. A consultative manager still makes the final decision, but they ensure they consider their team's opinions first.

  • Advantages: This style allows team members to build a stronger relationship with managers as they feel trusted and respected. Management can also benefit as they learn new ideas, perspectives and opinions from their skilled employees.

  • Disadvantages: Consulting all members of staff can be time-consuming, thus delaying important decisions.

  • Example: This management style works best for teams that have specialized skills a manager may not. A marketing team may include an SEO consultant, copywriter and editor. The marketing manager can consult individual team members to come to an informed decision.

5. Participative

Participative managers include all staff in the decision-making process. Staff have access to information about the company's goals so they can offer informed decisions. This style allows employees and managers to communicate openly and work together towards common goals.

  • Advantages: Employees that work under this management style feel valued, leading them to be more productive and motivated. It also encourages staff to be more creative and free-thinking, allowing them to tap into their full potential.

  • Disadvantages: The downfall of this management style is that it is a slow process. Including so many people in the decision-making process takes a long time and may even lead to conflicts if people disagree with each other.

  • Example: Tech companies may benefit the most from this management style, as they are constantly trying to create new and innovative products. Having input from a variety of sources who are all knowledgeable on the same subject is helpful.

6. Collaborative

Collaborative leaders create an open forum and work closely with their team members to make decisions. They believe team members who feel fulfilled are more likely to produce great work. This grants collaborative leaders higher levels of respect, as their emphasis is on employee satisfaction and effective teamwork.

  • Advantages: Employees feel trusted, heard and valued by collaborative leaders. This inspires them to work harder and put their best work forward. Employees under this management style are more loyal and productive as well.

  • Disadvantages: Decision-making takes longer with this management style, as managers try to include everyone. This may leave them with less time for independent, high-level strategic planning.

  • Example: Nonprofits use collaborative leadership to show appreciation to their staff, especially if they are volunteering.

7. Transformational

A transformational management style focuses on the growth of the company and its employees. Managers push their staff to achieve impressive accomplishments by encouraging them to reach their goals and pushing them out of their comfort zones. Transformational managers want their employees to reach their full potential.

  • Advantages: Transformational management increases innovation and creates independent workers. Managers encourage employees to be creative and solve problems on their own, developing vital skills for professional growth.

  • Disadvantages: This style may cause some employees to burn out as they are constantly pushing themselves.

  • Example: Transformational management thrives in industries that are constantly changing, like technology and finance. These industries require employees to adapt quickly and think of new and creative ideas.

Related: Definition of Transactional vs. Transformational Leadership

8. Delegative

A delegative management style is a more hands-off approach to leadership than the previously listed styles. Delegative managers are only present to assign tasks, review them and offer guidance when needed. They let employees make their own decisions on projects and tasks.

  • Advantages: This management style allows employees to become more independent, innovative and creative as they have more control over their work. It also strengthens problem-solving and teamwork, as staff must handle their own issues and work together to solve them.

  • Disadvantages: Some employees may feel neglected under this management style. Productivity sometimes suffers as delegative managers are rarely around to supervise.

  • Example: Creative environments, such as a marketing team comprising a graphic designer, writer and editor, thrive under delegative management. Creative employees have the freedom to express themselves and produce high-quality work under this management style.

9. Visionary

Visionary managers lead by inspiring their team. They explain their goals and reasoning to convince their team to work towards the same vision. Team members receive this guidance, then they are free to achieve their tasks independently. Visionary managers may check in occasionally and offer constructive feedback, but they give their team creative freedom.

  • Advantages: Employees under a visionary manager are engaged and driven to complete their tasks. As they receive a lot of praise, they stay motivated and feel satisfied with their work.

  • Disadvantages: If managers are trying to force inspiration, it can seem insincere and employees may not perform as well.

  • Example: Creative industries thrive under this management style. Design teams in the fashion industry appreciate having an overarching vision with the freedom to be as creative as they want to bring that vision to life.


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